United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (DEFENDANTS' MOTION
FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT)
R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court is the Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No.
56] filed by defendants Ethicon, Inc. and Johnson &
Johnson (collectively, “Ethicon”). As set forth
below, Ethicon's Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in
action involves Maryland co-plaintiffs, one of whom was
implanted with Tension-free Vaginal Tape-Obturator
(“TVT-O”), a mesh product manufactured by
Ethicon. Am. Short Form Compl. [ECF No. 17] ¶¶ 1-9.
The case resides in one of seven MDLs assigned to me by the
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation concerning the use
of transvaginal surgical mesh to treat pelvic organ prolapse
(“POP”) and stress urinary incontinence
(“SUI”). In the seven MDLs, there are more than
60, 000 cases currently pending, nearly 28, 000 of which are
in the Ethicon MDL, MDL 2327.
effort to efficiently and effectively manage this massive
MDL, the court decided to conduct pretrial discovery and
motions practice on an individualized basis so that once a
case is trial-ready (that is, after the court has ruled on
all summary judgment motions, among other things), it can
then be promptly transferred or remanded to the appropriate
district for trial. To this end, the court ordered the
plaintiffs and defendants to submit a joint list of 200 of
the oldest cases in the Ethicon MDL that name only Ethicon,
Inc., Ethicon, LLC, and/or Johnson & Johnson. These cases
became part of a “wave” of cases to be prepared
for trial and, if necessary, remanded. See Pretrial
Order No. 206, In re Ethicon, Inc. Pelvic Repair Sys.
Prods. Liab. Litig., No. 2:12-md-002327, Nov. 20, 2015,
The plaintiffs' case was selected as an “Ethicon
Wave 2 case.”
II. Legal Standards
obtain summary judgment, the moving party must show that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In considering a motion for
summary judgment, the court will not “weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986). Instead, the court will draw any permissible
inference from the underlying facts in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986).
the court will view all underlying facts and inferences in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the
nonmoving party nonetheless must offer some “concrete
evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a
verdict” in his or her favor. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 256. Summary judgment is appropriate when the
nonmoving party has the burden of proof on an essential
element of his or her case and does not make, after adequate
time for discovery, a showing sufficient to establish that
element. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
322-23 (1986). The nonmoving party must satisfy this burden
of proof by offering more than a mere “scintilla of
evidence” in support of his or her position.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252. Likewise, conclusory
allegations or unsupported speculation, without more, are
insufficient to preclude the granting of a summary judgment
motion. See Dash v. Mayweather, 731 F.3d 303, 311
(4th Cir. 2013); Stone v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 105
F.3d 188, 191 (4th Cir. 1997).
Choice of Law
parties agree, as does this court, that Maryland law applies
to the plaintiffs' claims. To determine the applicable
state law for a dispositive motion, I generally refer to the
choice-of-law rules of the jurisdiction where the plaintiffs
first filed their claim. See In re Air Disaster at
Ramstein Air Base, Ger., 81 F.3d 570, 576 (5th Cir.
1996). The plaintiffs originally filed this action in the
Western District of Missouri. Thus, the choice-of-law
principles of Missouri guide this court's choice-of-law
law employs “the most significant relationship
test” to determine which state's substantive law to
apply in a tort action. Kennedy v. Dixon, 439 S.W.2d
173, 184 (Mo. 1969) (en banc). Under this test, the court
must evaluate the contacts of each interested state and
determine which state “has the most significant
contacts” with the lawsuit. Id. In doing so,
the court balances four factors: “(a) the place where
the injury occurred, (b) the place where the conduct causing
the case occurred, (c) the domicile, residence, nationality,
place of incorporation and place of business of the parties,
and (d) the place where the relationship, if any, between the
parties is centered.” Wright v. Miller, 736
F.Supp. 1024, 25-26 (W.D. Mo. 1990). Here, the plaintiffs are
residents of Maryland, Ms. Blackston was implanted with the
product at issue in Maryland, and her alleged injuries and
follow-up care occurred in Maryland. Accordingly, I will
apply Maryland's substantive law to this case.
argues it is entitled to summary judgment because the
plaintiffs' claims are ...